Companies are taking notice of the rise in popularity of free, ad-supported streaming services and more are trying to get involved by creating their own services to bring in advertisers and promote their paid services. Redbox is the most recent company to jump in and announce the launch of their free, live TV feature.
Here’s how the new Redbox free streaming service compares to one of the more established ad-supported services, Pluto TV.
After less than five years from launching, Pluto TV had grown so much that it caught the attention of Viacom. The media company bought the streaming service in March 2019. After the merger with CBS, Viacom said they would be keeping Pluto TV free and would be using it as part of the company’s strategy to offer a full range of streaming products.
Since the Viacom purchase and the ViacomCBS merger, the free streaming service has continued to grow quickly. Thanks to new content being added consistently, viewers keep coming back to Pluto TV. Viacom recently announced that Plulto TV had reached 22 million active users.
Pluto TV now has over 240 channels in the following categories: Movies, Entertainment, News, Binge Watch, Comedy, Sports, Explore, Life + Style, Tech + Geek, Kids, Latino, and Music. ViacomCBS has been using the service to promote other assets like CBS All Access (with the premiere episode of Star Trek: Picard airing on Pluto TV) and dedicated channels to build interest in upcoming movies (like the 24/7 Dora the Explorer channel which aired before the premiere of the Dora movie.)
Last week, Pluto TV updated its iOS app and website for an improved viewer experience. The update makes it easier to find and launch channels, along with marking favorites and creating watch lists to navigate to content even more quickly.
Redbox has been known for their red video rental kiosks found around the country. The company also went digital, allowing viewers to download an app for renting movies and TV seasons. Earlier this month, we reported that Redbox had launched a free, live TV streaming service as a new feature on the Redbox website.
On the new Free Live TV tab, viewers will find a collection of channels showing a live stream of curated content. Currently, Redbox Free Live TV has just under 30 channels showing celebrity & entertainment news, world & national news, movies, kids’ content, epic viral videos, and comedy. Channels include TMZ, Docurama, Now This, and more. Three of those channels are exclusive to Redbox – Redbox Rush, Redbox Comedy, and Redbox Spotlight.
The Redbox free service was quickly made available on Roku, iPhone, Apple TV, Android-enabled devices, VIZIO SmartCast TVs, and LG Smart TVs. “We know what consumers want to watch and Free Live TV expands the ability to reach consumers and tap into the growing OTT market,” said Galen Smith, Redbox CEO in a statement about the launch.
While the current selection of channels is small and made up mostly of the same free channels offered by other ad-supported services, it’s a start. The move to offering a free streaming service was one that made sense for Redbox, a company that was already in the digital video game. We’ll wait and see if Redbox invests the resources into developing the service into one that can compete with already established services like Pluto TV, XUMO, Crackle, and Tubi.
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